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The Difference Between Bolts And Screws

Pulished on Jun. 13, 2024

Bolts and screws are essential building fasteners that play a crucial role in securely holding objects together. While it is often believed that bolts and screws are the same, there are specific differentiating factors between them. In this article, we will explore the distinctions between bolts and screws, shedding light on their varying characteristics and uses.


Understanding Bolts and Screws

The definitions of bolts and screws are not set in stone and can vary depending on factors such as time period, geographical location, and manufacturer preferences. The absence of a universal distinction has led to conflicting definitions and exceptions to established rules over the past four centuries.

According to Accu, bolts are fasteners that rotate from the outside of the head, whereas screws are fasteners with a central drive. However, these definitions can be complicated by the presence of hybrid fasteners that challenge the conventional standards, blurring the lines between bolts and screws.

The Importance of Differentiation

Distinguishing bolts from screws holds significant importance for various reasons. In product design, manufacturing, and maintenance, identifying specific components accurately is essential. Effective collaboration between engineers and purchasing departments relies on a clear understanding of the differences, as engineers depend on precise adherence to instructions. Moreover, in the era of online sourcing, having a comprehensive grasp of component terminology is crucial for successfully locating the right components.

Bolts: Characteristics and Uses


Although it is an oversimplified view, bolts are generally manufactured in larger dimensions compared to screws. This is primarily due to the fact that larger dimensions are better suited for supporting larger and heavier structures. Consequently, some individuals refer to small fasteners as screws and reserve the term "bolts" for larger ones. However, it is important to note that size alone does not determine the difference between a bolt and a screw, as it is primarily a by-product of their respective designs.

Length of Thread

Traditionally, bolts were known as smooth sliding shafts, which has led some users to define bolts as partially threaded fasteners. While there may be some truth to this perspective, it is crucial to understand that thread length alone does not serve as a distinct differentiator between bolts and screws. Some users believe that full-threaded fasteners should be classified as screws, whereas any fasteners with threadless handles should be considered bolts. However, this distinction is not widely accepted and is often subject to contradiction.

Screws: Characteristics and Uses

Screws, although similar in providing firm support during fastening applications, possess distinct features from bolts.

Self-Tapping Capability

One significant characteristic that sets screws apart from bolts is their self-tapping ability. Screws are designed with helical grooves wound around the shaft, allowing them to tap into the material they are being threaded into. This enables the screw to securely hold itself in place without the need for additional hardware.

Shape and Cost

Screws typically have a tapered shape, allowing for easy insertion into various materials. On the other hand, bolts do not possess this tapering feature. Additionally, bolts are generally more expensive than screws due to their larger size and structural requirements.


In conclusion, while bolts and screws share the common purpose of fastening objects, they possess distinct characteristics that set them apart. Bolts are often larger in size and may have partial threading, while screws are self-tapping and usually tapered in shape. Understanding the differences between bolts and screws is vital for accurate product design, manufacturing processes, and component identification. By grasping these distinctions, engineers, manufacturers, and consumers can make informed decisions when selecting the appropriate fasteners for their specific needs.

We, as bolt suppliers, are here to assist you with your fastening requirements. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to contact us.